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  1. Belly Belle

    Belly Belle Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 10, 2013
    Hello,

    We need help. We are new to keeping chickens so we may not be doing things right with their care (both pre and post sickness) and not sure if even our vet is ever certain what's going on with them.

    We got 3 chickens last summer and have loved having them. We lost one in October and have never been sure what the problem was. She was absolutely fine for a while and very perky and happy. Then she started to go downhill. We thought at first it was egg bound and tried to treat that and then finally had to take her to the vet - they seemed perplexed and have a multi-person consultation and put her on baytril feeling it might be a oviduct infection. She never really improved, despite giving her the meds, extra tuna to help provide protein back and some borrowed tonic to help give her a boost during her treatment of antibiotics and within a week passed away. We were devastated but still had two. We buried her in our garden and put a deterrent over her spot to avoid being dug up by predators or found by her former companions.

    Our others have done well for the last couple of months. Though admittedly we did not have to care for them for about 3 weeks as we were away and put them with chicken sitters. They returned home and were fine. But of course we've had some deep snow and that kept them a bit bound to their smaller covered run and some terrible weather with horrible rain and wind (one day closed their door and locked them out of their run which then encouraged them to lay in the garden).

    This past week, as I have found eggs in other locations I thought that a drop in egg production for one of them was due to this new habit and with some other stormy/snowy weather believed also that some of the hiding in bushes was due to that. So I may have picked up some illnesses earlier but hadn't because there seemed to be plausible reasons for both unusual behaviours. On Wednesday, we had a bit of sun and I now noticed that one of our chickens was not coming for treats or running around like the other. We took her to the vet and it was believed to be a respiratory infection and antibiotics were given to be put in her water and she received a shot at the vet. When she came home she mainly sat in the corner and eventually went to bed. The following day, she could not barely stand and lost her balance often with walking. She has since deteriorated and doesn't eat on her own or drink (so any antibiotics getting to her I have to get into her). Losing feathers, cannot stand at all and is distressed and often breathing through her mouth.

    I've brought her into the house and she's in a little bathroom (no radiator on as I feared it would be too hot for her in such a small room and left the window cracked to give some fresh air).I've tried to administer antibiotics through a syringe - sometimes mixing it with some yogurt as the pure fluid often doesn't get into to her. She is not eating at all on her own so I have to hand feed her. If I get it into her mouth, she'll swallow it herself but will not actively eat on her own. I've tried to give her some feed (sometimes mixed with water so mushy), scrambled eggs (for protein), tuna to help compensate for her weakened state from being on antibiotics, and corn. I also get some grit into her to help her digestion and give her yogurt to help put some good bacteria into her gut. She is pooing but it is a bit mushy, though had a harder one this morning. She is losing feathers and is not gaining strength and is currently having very labored breathing. I don't know if I should take her off the antibiotics (we've been on them in some form since Weds) as maybe they are weakening her and not getting her appetite up? Our vet also never seems certain with what could be wrong...any chance that the diagnosis might be wrong and there could be worms? We've never wormed her but gave her pellets which should help to prevent worms (Flubenvet was difficult to get recently with dist problems). As she cannot stand on her own at all, I have to prop her up on straw so she doesn't lay on her side (though I've found her that way sometimes as she sometimes has gotten panicked and started frantically kicking her legs or has just fallen over). I understand being on their side can be bad so obviously trying to avoid it but not always unavoidable with a chicken who can't keep herself up.

    So other possible things? Could the bad weather recently been distressing to her or penned her up too much? Could she have gotten too close or dug around the carcass of the other buried chicken? Could their food have gotten too wet from recent rain (it is under cover but they've often thrown bits of it out of the feeder - maybe searching for tastier bits - and as it is scattered on the ground could be wet and yucky)? But other chicken is still doing fine and thriving from what we can see. Is there anything else more I can do or anything I am doing that is all wrong? I am so uncertain about her symptoms and there's soooo much information online that I am trying to give her anything that will help her get her strength back but nothing is helping and it just seems like she's getting worse not better! Her breathing is very laboured and she is mouth breathing constantly now. I don't want to lose her and could use some good advice from those with lots of years of experience with chickens. She's been a very robust chicken, big girl, big eggs - though a little stand offish so doesn't like lots of handling so I a sure having me handle her a lot isn't fun and she was panting after her visit with the vet.

    I am also concerned about getting more chickens - which we'll need for our lone chicken if this one goes - if we're just complete incompetents on keeping them somehow. I can't stand the suffering of animals and in most animals we do pretty well (with cats and guinea pigs) but chickens/birds are new to us and sometimes their symptoms are hidden, appear to be in many different ailment listings and a mystery to many.

    Please help!!!
     
  2. NestingHillsSC

    NestingHillsSC Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You have any pics of her. Would help greatly.
     
  3. DraigAthar

    DraigAthar Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm sorry to hear about your sad chickens! You might try reading about CRD/MG and see if it fits your situation. If your first hen had it and died from it, then the other two were exposed to it as well. It's one of the respiratory diseases they can get where it will come back later on, if the bird is under any sort of stress (and winter can be stressful on them!). It's also extremely common. I'm not trying to diagnose her though - chickens are especially prone to respiratory diseases and there are many causative organisms. But you can start by reading about some of the more common ones like CRD, ILT, Coryza, etc, and maybe it will help you.

    Also, if your vet normally treats cats and dogs, then s/he won't really know much at all about birds. Even most farm vets know heaps about mammals and very little about poultry. So don't be surprised if your vet is stumped by chicken diseases.
     
  4. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    Ok, the one that is currently sick: What led the vet to diagnose a respiratory illness? Was she making odd breathing sounds, gurgling, rattling, coughing? If she indeed has come down with one of the respiratory diseases then I would finish the course of antibiotic's as well as being sure to keep her warm. Respiratory illness in chickens very easily turns into pneumonia and secondary bacterial infections, hence the antibiotic's. Definitely dose her directly with the meds, dosing via drinking water is hit and miss at best since sick birds often don't eat or drink much.

    And yes, if your birds went away to stay with someone else for chicken sitting and that person also has chickens, they could easily pick up some respiratory disease. Even coccidiosis if they were exposed to a strain they are not immune too in their home environment.

    Unfortunately there's a lot of things that this could be. That's one of the more frustrating aspects of chicken keeping, they can be really hard to diagnose and finding a good, avian vet with poultry experience is tough. Not to mention doing all the testing to make a definitive diagnoses is expensive. Many times we loose birds without a clue as to what the problem was and the only way to get a definitive answer is to have a necropsy done.

    Sometimes all you can do is treat them as best you can, give her meds as prescribed, keep her warm and try to get plenty of fluids and some food in her. If she passes you know you've done your best.
     
  5. Belly Belle

    Belly Belle Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 10, 2013
    Hello all - thanks for all of your responses. Our vet believed it to be respiratory as her breathing was laboured and raspy as we listened to her. I can see that her nose, though not running right now, is a little crusty so would seem to support the possible respiratory infection. The fact is, is that our vet has a farm animal department (so separate from the cats, dogs, rabbits thing) so should be good with chickens. But as I mentioned with our last fatality, they all gathered in a group and didn't seem really certain what was wrong. This time that didn't happen but still it was feeling a little like 'I think it is this' which I guess is a little common with chickens but with us being so new to chicken keeping and we love our pets quite a bit, I guess I'd love to be able to take them to someone (which I am paying for of course) who can give me some certainty that we have the cause and here's a good plan to get her back on her feet.

    As for the antibiotics. The vet said to put it in the drinking water so it is supposed to be diluted to give to her. I just know that my ability to get straight water into her beak (of course avoiding airways) hasn't been successful. So I added some treated water to yogurt and then as it is a little thicker, I could put that in her beak and she'd eat it. I also soaked the corn in treated water. So not only was the corn juicy for her to get some moisture but it would also give her the antibiotics that way too. And if I did mushy food with water that I'd scoop into her beak - of course it would be treated water. So as much as I could get the treated water into her I'd do it so she'd be getting her antibiotics everyday, multiple times a day. Of course her first day and a half, as she was eating voluntarily she may not have been getting as much as she'd only eat and drink very little. When she stopped eating on her own, that is when I took over sitting patiently on my knees feeding her piece by piece and trying to ensure that anything I gave her would have traces of the antibiotics she needed to get better while also trying to strengthen her up with high protein food, mushed pellets for complete chicken needs and yogurt to keep her gut healthy.

    I'll send a pic over shortly.
     
  6. Belly Belle

    Belly Belle Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 10, 2013
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Pics of our sick girl. She's is not sitting up on her own. This is her propped up with straw to keep her upright. If left to her own devices, she'd be on her side. As you can see on the 2nd photo, her mouth is open and it appears that this is the only way she is now breathing so as I said, it seems she is worse now than she was yesterday. I am loathe to try to feed her because I am worried about this constant open mouth and how distressed she is but know that if she doesn't get more into her she will fade fast because she has such little weight and no matter what I am doing I cannot compete in terms of volume with her eating on her own.
     
  7. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member

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    I hate to say it, but sometimes open mouth breathing is a sign that the dying process has started... If she were my hen, I'd be more worried about her hydration than her food intake.
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. spikennipper

    spikennipper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Kent, UK.
    Have you discussed mareks with your vet? it may be this going by your description and the pics but other ailments may have the same symptoms, if she unfortunately passes I would get a post mortem done, it may cost a bit but then you will know, how old is she?
     
  9. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member

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    Good advice... Many states offer a free or low cost necropsy service. No clue about the rest of the world.
     
  10. Belly Belle

    Belly Belle Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 10, 2013
    She just seems so weak and I hate the thought of her dying. We've bonded a lot through this process of me hand feeding her and as I was getting food in and she was getting poop out I thought we might have some hope. It kills me to see her suffering so. We are not in the States (UK) so may not be able to get free necropsy. I've read stuff on Mareks before and didn't feel it summed up enough of what she had but so many of her symptoms mimic something in the possible diseases you find out there. She's had clear eyes and her legs aren't paralyzed exactly. She has moments where they kick frantically but it seems they just don't work so she can't stand at all or keep herself up. I assumed that her sickness led to lack of appetite and eating so of course she would be very weak and unable to stand. Her wings - if I am holding her up - will spread out so I don't think they're paralyzed.

    Is there any way to know where Marek's could have come from? I believe that the breeder we bought them from had given them vaccinations - though as a newbie to chicken keeping I might not have this all correct. Was there a way for us to avoid this?

    She is not very old - we only got her in July last year at POL so she is still under a year old.
     

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